By: Alex Kiriazis and Adina Cruz
Amazon can be a game changer for your business, though navigating it can be tricky. Today, two of our Ecommerce Strategists, Alex Kiriazis and Adina Cruz, are sharing a bit about Amazon Seller Central. Whether you are already set up in Seller Central, or are considering it, there are several issues you could encounter on an ongoing basis that will affect your ability to drive revenue through this channel.
So you’re all set up on Amazon Seller Central. All your ASINs are live, your products are in Amazon warehouses, and (hopefully) items are flying off the digital shelves. It feels like things are set and now everything will just hum along smoothly. In the Amazon marketplace, even if all these boxes are checked, you’re not out of the weeds yet.
Amazon is the largest online retailer there is, and they value their customers’ experience. If a product or brand shows even a slight deviation from their ideal appearance, it could be detrimental to the seller. In this post, we will highlight common red flags you will likely encounter related to your Inventory and Account Health.
Inventory to Space Ratio
One of the most common alerts you will get from Amazon will be regarding your inventory. While Amazon loves to stay stocked with all of their best selling products, they also consider the warehouse space needed to hold this inventory. If you’ve shipped in too many units, or those units are taking a long time to sell, Amazon will give you an excessive inventory alert. This is triggered when there are simply too many units in the warehouse compared to what they usually sell. One quick fix for this is to run a sale to move the excess product as quickly as possible. Otherwise, you could elect to have Amazon send the units back to you for a fee. If nothing is done, you could rack up a not-so-nice charge from Amazon for extra storage per month.
If you are an FBA seller selling perishables, or any product with an expiration date, you’ll also need to keep a close eye on inventory and sales data to avoid having your products labelled ‘Unfulfillable’. Amazon will not sell any products that are past their expiration date, nor will they accept any products that reach the warehouse with less days than needed to consume the product, plus 90 days (i.e. a bottle of supplements with 240 daily servings must have a remaining shelf life of 240 days plus an additional 90 days at the time of check-in at the fulfillment center). They will charge you to either send them back to you or destroy them. This same process is extended to products that were damaged or in transit to the warehouse.
Stranded Inventory flags can appear if your account is set up incorrectly when inventory is sent to Amazon. There are three main reasons this can occur, but each boil down to the product having contradicting information with Amazon.
- No ASIN: If there is no ASIN associated with the UPC/GTIN (barcode on product) Amazon cannot scan in the product.
- One ASIN with multiple SKUs: If there are too many SKUs under the same ASIN, Amazon will most likely experience issues with checking in products at the warehouse.
- Multiple ASINs: When you duplicate offers and have multiple ASINs for the same product.
Each of these can be fixed by either cleaning up your catalog by deleting old offers, ensuring all products are added to your catalog, or assigning the correct UPC/GTIN to each product. Easier said than done, but necessary if you would like to sell products.
Arguably the most important metric to keep close tabs on will be Account Health found in the Performance tab on your Seller Central dashboard. There are many factors that play a role in Account Health, and all need to be managed carefully. If Amazon sees any of these issues creep above their suggested rates, your account will be put at risk. If the issues are not taken care of, you will lose your buy box entirely. Below are a few of the more common alerts we see and fix.
- Shipping Performance looks at cancellation rate, tracking rate, and late deliveries to ensure those who ordered your products are receiving them in a timely manner.
- Order Defect Rate is based on poor reviews and negative feedback. This includes A-Z claims submitted by buyers after not hearing back from your company regarding a problem they experienced.
- Policy Violations are counting customer complaints, restricted products (products that do not follow Amazon’s guidelines), listing violations (i.e. making claims without proof presented to Amazon), food and product safety (no FDA approval documentation).
In addition, it is important to monitor and respond to all customer messages quickly. These are taken very seriously by Amazon and can tank your Account Health if left untreated.
Amazon provides visibility into issues, but ultimately it is on the Seller to resolve them.The Seller Support program provided by Amazon to troubleshoot these types of issues can be difficult to navigate. Calling it a tedious, usually frustrating process is an understatement. Knowing how to get in contact with the right people at Amazon with the ability to help you with a specific issue will be critical to continuing to realize returns from this powerful ecommerce channel.
Outside of optimizing ASINs and product pages, building accounts, and setting up storefronts, our Amazon Account Support team has the expertise needed to resolve Seller Central and Vendor Central issues as quickly as possible. If you have experienced any of these issues or need support in making Amazon a stronger channel for your business, drop us a line. We would love to hear from you.